When the students of Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) were denied opportunity to showcase their films at the 46th International Film Festival of India (IFFI), they started their rebel film festival. Films made by current and past students of the premier film institute are being showcased in the fest. The two day parallel screening has been launched in protest against the exclusion of their films from the ongoing IFFI. The two-day festival also screened films made by some former FTII students who have returned their national awards to express solidarity with the agitation at their alma mater.
Amid tight security at Institute Piedade, the venue of Retracing Freedom – Goa Chapter, the two-day festival started alongside IFFI by FTII students. On the very first day itself FTII students and alumni screened 10 films to raise awareness about their protests since June demanding removal of Gajendra Chauhan as the institute’s chairman.
Many students had to drop recently made films after North Goa District Magistrate sent a notice to the institute seeking details about the films being screened and whether they have been approved by the Censor Board. Chennai-based filmmaker RV Ramani said that a parallel film festival be a permanent event each year during IFFI, “How can students’ films be left out. Film festivals are primarily for students. It is like having a wedding or a big meal and keeping the children out.”
Filmmaker Saeed Mirza, who attended the parallel event, said the students section at IFFI was deliberately left out at the last minute. He argued, “A film festival is a ramp for students to showcase their art. They are not asking for reservations or drugs. They want a debate about basic things like their syllabi.”
The organizers were of the view, “In the event of the bizarre scenario of the students section being cancelled from this edition of the IFFI, we feel it is pertinent to screen a package of films made by students of FTII. The package represents a wide variety of student work which proudly reflects the plurality of FTIIs artistic expression and aspiration.”
Pratik Vats, an FTII alumnus and an independent filmmaker who is part of the organizing team, accused the government of going to extreme lengths to stifle students protest. He said, “We have been banned from the venue (of IFFI), when all we wanted to do was something creative. There is nothing illegal we wanted to do. Why is there so much suspicion? We are not here to disrupt.”